We are now one month away from the 2014 NFL Draft and now is as good a time as any to go back over things that we think we know as it relates to the Pittsburgh Steelers needs and wants. Below are just a few of the things that are floating around in my head right now.
The “tall” buzz word needs to be changed to “red” – We have heard for several months now that the Steelers “intend” on drafting quarterback Ben Roethlisberger a “tall” receiver. I don’t care how “tall” the receiver is, but what I do care about is whether or not that player can produce inside the red zone starting immediately. If this team can’t put up more points on the board than they did last season, they simply will not be able to compete for a championship. Think long and hard about what has been lost this offseason on offense and what has been brought in to replace those losses.
Give us cornerbacks – I doubt there are many of you that think the Steelers only need to draft one cornerback next month. As of right now, the future is Cortez Allen and that is it. This team needs to not only double-dip once again at the cornerback position, they need to hit future starters with both selections. That’s a lot to ask, but at least this is a deep cornerback class. Sure, these draft picks aren’t likely to play a lot in 2014, but they can be ready by 2015.
The outside linebacker pipeline really needs replenishing – Is Jason Worilds the future or is he a one-year stop-gap? Remember, this is the same player that lost his starting job to Jarvis Jones last year after the first week of the season. Sure, he played well when asked to take over for the injured LaMarr Woodley, but he still has a lot to prove. Behind Worilds and Jones are Chris Carter and Arthur Moats as of right now, and both are only under contract for the 2014 season. If Worilds is not extended prior to the start of the season, you have to wonder who will start opposite Jones in 2015. Is it time to double-dip this position once again?
Inside linebacker looks like a luxury – What’s your favorite inside flavor? Is it C.J. Mosley, Ryan Shazier or Christian Jones? All three would probably look real good in a Steelers uniform, but due to other needs that this team has right now, drafting any of the three really appears to be a luxury. Maybe Sean Spence can make it all the way back from his knee injury in 2014. Maybe Vince Williams can improve on third downs.
I’ve succumbed to tackle peer pressure – Marcus Gilbert is in a contract year and Mike Adams has only showed us so far that he can effectively run block on the right side. Kelvin Beachum has overachieved and needs to keep doing so. The Steelers appear to be doing their due diligence when it comes to tackles, so I fully expect one that can move out in space will be drafted at some point. If they expect new offensive line coach Mike Munchak to cook dinner, I suppose they should at least let him buy some groceries needed to prepare it. Those groceries, however, will likely have to be bought after the third round.
Anything for the defensive line – Where does Cam Thomas best fit and can he fit there for two seasons? Is Brett Keisel coming back for one more season? Are Nick Williams and Brian Arnfelt future starters or three-year projects? Hebron Fangupo will be 29 in July. Can Cameron Heyward be cloned? Is that legal? You see where I am going here. We have more questions about the defensive line than we have answers right now.
Upgrade David Paulson – I firmly believe that Heath Miller still has another season or two left in him and if healthy, I believe that Matt Spaeth can provide the team what they need from a second tight end in 2014. Still, this team could use another tight end roll of the dice in order to find an upgrade over David Paulson. If that dice roll comes up snake-eyes, then they will just have to try again in 2015.
Change of pace needed – The Steelers are set with Le’Veon Bell and LeGarrette Blount at running back for 2014, but the latter doesn’t offer much on third downs. A shifty back that has reliable hands wouldn’t hurt and one can be found this year after round four.
Ok, in the comments below, add the things that you think you know with one month to go until the draft or have fun with my offerings.